March 31, 2023

Scientists from Kumamoto University found that traditional Japanese matcha tea helps improve mood and mental performance and described the mechanism of its antidepressant action in mice. The study is published in the journal Nutrients.

Matcha (or matcha) powder, obtained from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, is traditionally used in for making drinks.

In a new study, scientists evaluated the effect of oral administration of the powder on mice that were stressed by social isolation. They found that matcha reduced depression and anxiety in mice that were naturally sensitive to stress. This was indicated by the results in the tail suspension tests, which are commonly used to assess depression in mice. However, the effect of the powder was much weaker among the animals, which experienced fewer symptoms of depression.

Although there are various hypotheses about the development of depression, often the disease is associated with a decrease in the level of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and hormone that plays an important role in boosting mood motivation.

The scientists found that this effect was associated with activation of the prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens. These areas are critical for controlling dopamine levels in the brain. Scientists have shown that their activation did increase dopamine levels. This was further confirmed by another experiment: administration of a dopamine D1 receptor blocker to stress-susceptible mice nullified all the antidepressant-like effects of the powder.

Additional studies like this one could help develop effective antidepressants.

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